How the Words Aboki and Yamiri Started

The two words ‘Aboki’ and ‘Yemiri’ are frequently used by Igbo and Hause; two of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. They used the words in describing each other. So, we shall be looking at the origin of “Aboki” and “Yamiri”, referring to the Hausa people of northern Nigeria and the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria respectively.

While the use of these words in identifying these ethnic groups have in one way or another become offensive to the people of these groups, as each of them regard the use of either words against each other as degrading to their identities, it has however continued to be used, even in today’s Nigeria.

Many things have been said about these words by different people. But in other to find out the origin of these words and the context of their usage, we researched the words and this is what we found out. Not that this finding stand to be corrected.

How the word YAMIRI started

Interestingly, the word “Yamiri” has be found to have had no link to Hausa or Fulani languages as some may have erroneously thought. Rather the word Yamiri came about as a mockery to the Igbo captives during the 1970 civil war.

Information have it that these captives were starved, tortured and humiliated. Information further states that those of them who can only speak in Igbo language will plead for water from their captors and would say “nye m mmiri” which means ‘give me water’ when translated to the English language. “nye m mmiri” was what Hausa people mispronounced as “Yamiri” as they couldn’t speak Igbo.

How the word ABOKI started

On the other hand, Aboki is a Hausa word translated to my “friend” in English language. Ultimately, people casually started calling Hausa/Fulani people “aboki” because they think it’s a kind of supplementary name for the Hausas/Fulani.

However, it has now been used wrongly by non-Hausa as an insult to the Hausa people. This has not really gone down well with the Hausa ethnic group who feel they are being targeted with a derogatory name.


Like we said earlier, the information provided above stand to be corrected, as it may not be exhaustive. If you have a contrary information kindly drop it at the comment section for other readers to know.

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